“Elektra,” an opera by Richard Strauss

George R. Brown Convention Center, in Houston

2 p.m. Jan. 21

“What a tangled web we weave…,” etc. While Agamemnon was fighting the Trojan War, his wife, Klytaemnestra took Aegisth as a lover. They killed Agamemnon on his return. Klytaemnestra is fearful that Agamemnon’s children will want vengeance, and she is right. She and Aegisth plot to imprison Elektra. Elektra’s brother, Orest, thought to be dead, is not and returns to assist his sister. The plot thickens, and the good guys win in the end. Orest avenges his father’s death, and Elektra does a little dance at the end.

This is a short opera — an hour and 45 minutes. It is sung in German with projected English translation (thank goodness I took German in college, but I could understand only an occasional word.) On stage and singing for almost the entire opera are soprano Christine Goerke as Elektra, and mezzo-soprano, Michaela Martens as Klytaemnestra. Both have beautiful and well-controlled voices and are the stars of the show.

The set, a partly destroyed front of a building, was just right and provided lots of going up and down the steps. The orchestra was onstage, to the right, something the Houston Grand Opera has done successfully before. Patrick Summers conducted. The costumes seemed authentic and successfully concealed the slightly bulky bodies of the principals.

But an hour and 45 minutes of two sopranos, even two really good ones, was a little off-putting, and the operagoer would have been pleased with a little more action. Even the end, when a person is killed and blood oozes down the steps, my regular comrade at the opera, Darin, thought there wasn’t near enough blood.

I give Elektra a B+. You can see it Saturday, Jan. 31 and Feb. 2.

Melvyn Schreiber lives in Galveston.

(1) comment

Norma Alderman

One of my favorite operas -- and you saw a sterling cast! The action is entirely in the music.

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